The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Hong Kong Bans Face Masks at Public Rallies

    Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked colonial-era emergency measures to ban face masks during public gatherings, with violators facing up to a year in jail. That’s likely to further anger protesters, who have adopted masks for both practical and symbolic reasons, and it comes just days after police shot an 18-year-old and charged him with rioting and attacking officers. Meanwhile, thousands of masked demonstrators marched through Hong Kong’s business district Friday.

    What’s next? As OZY reports, the determined and savvy protesters are likely to find creative ways to outmaneuver authorities.

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    Trump Grows Brazen as Inquiry Widens

    In what’s being described as a “mockery” of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump made a brash, offhand appeal to China yesterday to dig into Joe Biden and his son. Observers say his comments, delivered to reporters outside the White House, reflect a defiant doubling down on his claim that pressuring a foreign power to investigate a political rival — as he did privately with his Ukrainian counterpart — isn’t against the law.

    How’s the impeachment probe going? It could heat up following reports that top aides in the U.S. and Ukraine corresponded about getting Kyiv to commit to investigating Biden.

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    As Iraqi PM Calls for Talks, Police Fire on Protesters

    On the third day of deadly clashes across the country over corruption and unemployment, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said he was ready to meet with activists “to consider their legitimate demands.” But as he issued his appeal — which was reportedly accompanied by text messages offering a hotline to air grievances — security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Baghdad who were defying a curfew.

    Can Abdul-Mahdi stop the violence? Despite being open to talks, observers say it’s unclear who would represent the protesters, since they appear to be politically independent and largely unorganized.

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    US, North Korea Prepare for Negotiations

    “We’ll be talking to them.” That’s how President Trump responded to Pyongyang’s confirmation yesterday that it launched a submarine-capable ballistic missile this week. Negotiators from both sides will meet in Stockholm this weekend, though few expect the talks — the first since Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June — will yield much progress.

    Is there any room for movement? Some analysts suspect U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun’s pragmatic approach, coupled with the departure of hawkish ex-national security adviser John Bolton, could help ease tensions.

    Read OZY’s op-ed about why the Hermit Kingdom is keeping its nukes.

  5. Also Important…

    The French police employee who killed four people in a Paris knife attack yesterday reportedly suffered a psychotic episode. In order “to enhance efficiency,” Samsung has officially ended all smartphone production in China. And controversial supervillain thriller Joker hits theaters today amid concerns over its message and public safety.

    Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB Quiz.

    OZY is hiring! We’re looking for an analytical and globally minded tech reporter to sniff out today’s most important stories in science, technology and health. Check out our jobs page and read the description here.


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    Scotland Bans Hitting Children

    Scottish lawmakers voted 80 to 29 yesterday that children under 16 should have the same protection as adults by removing the defense of “justifiable assault” for physical punishment. While critics fear the legislation could see parents face criminal charges for disciplining their kids, advocates argue there’s no evidence that similar reforms elsewhere have led to increased prosecutions.

    Could the rest of the U.K. follow suit? Not unless they want to go against public opinion: According to a YouGov poll, 57 percent of British adults oppose a ban.

    Check out this OZY story about why a second child isn’t any easier.

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    EU Court: Facebook Must Pull Defamatory Posts Globally

    The European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that Facebook must remove content internationally if an EU court finds it defamatory. The decision comes after Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek demanded the platform purge comments that harmed her reputation. But Facebook argues the ruling raises serious questions about the role tech companies should play in regulating free speech.

    Could social platforms fall afoul of the law? Thursday’s decision doesn’t mean they’ll have to proactively identify offending content — nor will they be held liable for it — but they must comply with court orders.

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    Will the Sex Toy Market Embrace the Disabled Community?

    Bloggers concerned with accessibility have long recommended toys suitable for those with mobility issues, but now, OZY reports, sex shops and manufacturers are beginning to catch on. Oft-overlooked aspects of sex toys, such as weight, grip strength and battery life, can be rethought to accommodate users with disabilities — and to attract a demographic with $8 trillion in disposable income.

    Is an industry-wide shift on the way? Disability activists say true change in the sex toy market will require a cultural reevaluation of “how we think about disabled people having romantic relationships.”

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    Banksy Depiction of UK Parliament Sells for $12.2 Million

    Auctioned at Sotheby’s yesterday, the 2009 oil painting Devolved Parliament, which shows chimpanzees running Britain’s legislature, set a record for the street artist’s work. Experts had expected the 13-foot-wide piece to fetch about $2.5 million. Following a lengthy bidding war, Banksy wrote on Instagram, “Shame I didn’t still own it.”

    What about his other work? The previous auction record for a Banksy piece was set by Keep It Spotless, sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $1.8 million in 2008.

    Read this OZY piece on Portugal’s answer to Banksy.

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    Reports: ‘Sports Illustrated’ Slashes Newsroom Staff

    Around half the magazine’s editorial staff have been cut, according to sources who described a series of chaotic meetings yesterday. Before the layoffs, about three-quarters of SI journalists signed a petition asking the publication’s new owner, Authentic Brands Group, not to hand over management to a digital publisher called TheMaven. They argued it would replace seasoned reporters with contractors and bloggers and “significantly undermine” the magazine’s integrity.

    Is it all doom and gloom? For current staffers, it seems so — but the new owners say they plan to hire 200 contractors to cover various sports beats.